The Old Osprey
The Osprey, sometimes called a sea hawk or fish eagle; nest at Seahorse Key every year. They mate for life which can be from seven to ten years and in some cases 20 to 25 years. And if their old nest still exists when it’s time to mate in the spring; they will touch it up with new limbs and other nesting material and use it again. If it has been destroyed by a storm they will build a new nest before mating.
They are sexually mature for mating at three to four years old. But if there is not enough suitable nesting sites; mating can be postponed up to seven years.
He gathers the materials and she fits it together to her liking. She was very picky about everything that he brought to her. Her selection of a nest site was not the best selection either; she chose an old dead mangrove in the marsh near the channel leading in to the dock at Seahorse.
He would fly away and proudly bring back sticks for her, she would scream at him and fling it away with her beak. He eventually brought enough that she was satisfied with to get the base layer set up. This was repeated over and over again, until it was complete, and she refused to mate until the nest was built to her satisfaction.
Every day when Chuck came home, he would tell me about what transpired each day with the nest building of the picky old bird and her inexperienced young mate. After at least a week of this nest building, with all her screaming at him, and flinging away whatever he brought to her he had managed to finally get the job done.
They mated and afterwards she laid her eggs. They take turns setting on the eggs; one or the other is on the nest at all times with the eggs or hatchlings until they are old enough and have been trained well enough to leave the nest.
At some point after the nest was finished and the eggs had been laid, but not yet hatched; we had an afternoon squall that destroyed the nest completely. The old dead mangrove fell over in the strong winds and all was lost except the old bird and her young mate.
And the process began all over again to select another site and build a new nest. Her site selection was a better choice this time, a sturdy Oak tree near the edge of the beach. The new nest site was still close enough that Chuck could see the on goings of building process of the new one from time to time.
And eventually the nest was finished and they had mated again and she laid a second batch of eggs and she raised and trained three new ospreys this time. Many years they only have two offspring each year.
They like a flat surface such as a big open crotch of a tree, but they will build on most any flat surface. I have seen many nests built on the cross braces of power lines. They like to be near the water where there is a food source of fish close by.
Their primary diet is fish, but they will eat other things such as rodents, reptiles and whatever other smaller things they can catch if fish are not plentiful. They are found almost worldwide, in the 1950’s and 60’s their population had declined somewhat due to pesticides, but this has since changed.
|An Osprey Nest on a Platform|